Christ humbled himself in the most humiliating way known to the Roman World. Crucifixion was reserved for slaves and because he humbled himself in this way God exalted him by giving him the divine name, Lord. We hear this in the famous hymn from Philippians 2:1-11.
This pattern of self-emptying and being raised up connects with Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels: The first will be last and the last will be first, the greatest is the servant of all. This is what our Christian life calls us to, but it is difficult for us to learn.
When you think about it, if we truly live this way, communion happens. Unity is achieved. We are prepared to listen and work in with people.
We have always had factions in the Church and social media feeds those factions if we allow it. The Gospel calls believers to conform their lives to Christ, to model their lives on him. Those who imitate him will do nothing from self-ambition or consider themselves better than others. This is a much more peaceful way to live and people who live this way are like gold within a family or community.
Because Jesus was humble, compassionate, and open, he attracted lowly, broken, and rejected people, referred to in our Gospel today from Matthew 21:28-32 as the tax collectors and prostitutes. They got him. His words and actions touched their hearts and challenged them to reform their lives. They originally said ‘No’ like the son in our parable today but were now saying ‘Yes’. Those who thought they had all the answers and were doing all the right things rejected him. Their pride and self-importance blinded them. They had originally said ‘Yes’ like the other son but were now saying ‘No’.
How shocking for them to hear that the tax collectors and prostitutes were entering the Kingdom of God before them. Here again is an example of the first shall be last and the last shall be first. An example of God lifting up the lowly.
Mindful of our own sinfulness, brokenness and need for healing we can turn to Christ and humbly allow him to raise us up and in modelling our lives on him be there for one another in the same way.
I invite you to listen to and reflect on the song ‘A Place for Me’ from ‘A Noble Work’.
‘Jesus ate with sinners. Seems there’s a place for me.’